Attention musicians: For those thinking they need to rush their product out with sub-par material and inferior packaging for that nifty festival gig, take note of Gina Forsyth. The New Orleans singer-songwriter/roots musician never releases anything before it’s damn good and ready—and then some—thanks to Katrina and other life interruptions. Her solo sophomore effort is loaded with thought-provoking content and incisive humor, the song’s real message revealed in layers. Along the way, facets of Forsyth’s personality are unveiled, such as her exemplary Cajun musicianship on “Belle,” a tricky 5/4 ballad from the Lomax Archive that’s richly rendered here on voice and acoustic guitar.
The album’s theme revolves around America, from its supposedly idealistic beginnings to today’s frightening reality where human-to-human communication has become a lost art (“4th of July”). It’s a value paramount to Forsyth, as expressed in “Christmas in China,” where mankind and memories of others, not inconsequential gifts, are the only true gifts. On “What I Did On Mardi Gras Day, “she strums a fiddle as if it were a Middle Eastern instrument and comments about the local music industry: “So now you play until you hit the floor / and when you hit the floor, they don’t miss a beat. / They sweep you to the end of Bourbon Street.” She’s hilarious commenting on her native, beloved South (“Sweet & Sunny South”) when she sings, “We love our musicians and our fascist politicians,” then questions the South’s provincial view on gay rights. It’s hard to say if there will ever be a promised land that fulfills every expectation, but when it comes to Forsyth’s songwriting, there are no promises, just truths.